Survivor of domestic violence and raised by a single mother, I have been able to turn my tragedies into a positive. A moment that defined me was when my mom, sisters and I had to pick up in the middle of the night and escape our abuser. We left wearing only the clothing on our back, abandoning many of our favorite possessions behind. A few years later we were faced with another obstacle – a house fire. I was in third grade at the time and for a year, as our house underwent extreme repairs, we lived with neighbors and friends. Going from place to place without an official location to call home, not knowing where we were going to live the next day, was difficult. But we were together as a family, and that’s all that mattered.
Looking back, what impacted me the most was how people helped us. So many people in the community reached out to my family during our hardships. I’ll never forget the compassion and kindness that was shown.
Now, giving back is my way of paying it forward. In 2009 at 12-years-old I started a 501c3 non-profit organization called, Angels of God Clothing Closet. My charity provides clothing and more for free to families in need. It’s heartwarming to help residents at the same domestic violence shelter that once assisted my family. We work with social services, homeless shelters and community leaders who refer clients to Angels of God. The clients are invited to come into the clothing closet storefront and go “shopping” at no cost. The center even has shopping carts and a dressing room! I know from personal experience that it can be difficult to keep your dignity in tough times. Sometimes, something as simple as a new outfit can put a smile on one’s face and make them feel beautiful.
Never underestimate the difference one person can make.